Links 10/7/15

Leftie caricature of ‘evil Tories’ broadly accurate, admits middle England Daily Mash

‘I didn’t get into Parliament to be a bit of f***ing arm candy’: Female Tory MPs’ complaints after being made to walk alongside Cameron at party conference Daily Mail

The Clean-Energy Moonshot Project Syndicate (David L)

IMF cuts US growth outlook for 2016 SkyNews (resilc)

Why The IMF Cut Its Global Growth Forecast: China, Commodities And The Fed’s Itchy Trigger Finger

Australia asylum: Court to rule on offshore detention camps BBC

His Highness the Fake Sheikh! — We Expose Najib’s Mystery ‘Donor’! EXCLUSIVE Sarawak Report


Guest post: What Chinese rebalancing? Cash flow edition FT Alphaville

Is China’s economy heading for a crash? Sydney Morning Herald


Leaked: Video which proves the specific structure and criminal action of Golden Dawn neo-nazis in Greece failed evolution

Greek fin min says recession shallower than lenders forecast Reuters


The Russians, the Shia, et al against the Saudi sponsored jihadis Sic Semper Tyrannis (resilc)

We Have Committed a War Crime: ‘Patients Were Burning in Their Beds’ Salon

The U.S. Military Is Determined to Dodge Responsibility for the Afghan Airstrike Charles Pierce, Esquire

Yemen rocket attacks on government hotel kill 15 in Aden Guardian (resilc)

Violence in Yemen may trigger world’s next great refugee crisis Middle East Online Resilc: “Xmas gift for Germany.”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

China’s Nightmarish Citizen Scores Are a Warning For Americans American Civil Liberties Union. A must read.

No safe harbour: Trans-atlantic data pact struck down by EU’s highest court Bloomberg. EM: “And by way of a bonus, a Covington & Burling sighting!”

California city mayor relinquishes electronics and passwords to agents at SFO ars technical (Chuck L)

This is why I always give the benefit of the doubt to left wing opponents of the regime Ian Welsh

Imperial Collapse Watch

The World’s Silliest Empire ClubOrlov (Chuck L)

Why do empires care about women’s clothes Aeon (resilc)

Trade Traitors

Trans-Pacific Currency Deal Puts Yellen’s Fed in the Spotlight Bloomberg (resilc)

Pacific Trade Deal Jolts Canadian Campaign New York Times

It’s not checkmate yet: Beijing to counter US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact South China Morning Post


How Republicans Are Rehabbing Hillary’s Image New York Magazine

Trump aims fire on Marco Rubio ascent Financial Times

Ben Carson Wouldn’t Meet UCC Shooting Victims’ Families This Time, But “Would Go to the Next One” Gawker (resilc)

California governor signs bill legalizing physician-assisted suicide Reuters (EM)

Graham opposed Sandy aid but wants South Carolina help CNN (resilc)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

How ESPN’s Fear Of The Truth Defeated “Black Grantland” Dead Spin (Randy K)

Accused Libor Manipulators’ Nicknames For Each Other Could Use Work Dealbreaker

Light, where there was once dark – Glencore funding edition FT Alphaville

Note to Payments Innovators: You Need a Value Proposition! Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

Building our hopes on market liquidity is a risky strategy Martin Wolf, Financial Times

Debt Déjà Vu Adair Turner, Project Syndicate

Class Warfare

‘But Whole Foods Is Supposed to Be Cage-Free!’: Colbert Skewers High-End Grocer for Using Prison Labor Alternet

The Billionaire Shit List, #20: Sergey Brin Gawker. Resilc: “Google is one of the biggest tax dodgers in Silicon Valley. In 2012, the company paid a meager 2.6 percent in taxes on $5.8 billion in profits by funneling money through a variety of shell corporations in various foreign countries.”

Male Board Members Must Step Up to Fight Gender Bias in Pay at Nonprofits David Cay Johnston

$1.90 Per Day: What Does it Say? INET

Antidote du jour:

hippo-baby links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. juliania

    I might have missed this here – I really can’t believe it, but this was at this morning:

    ” . . .A bipartisan bill in Congress would lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 6.75 percent for a five-year period, enticing companies to return their funds from the tax havens. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) are co-sponsors of the Invest in Transportation Act of 2015, which would send the taxes collected to the Highway Trust Fund. . .”

    In case nobody else noticed – it does say “LOWER THE CORPORATE TAX RATE ….TO 6.75 PERCENT FOR A FIVE YEAR PERIOD, ENTICING . . .”!!

    Has everyone gone completely bonkers? (Sorry if I did miss a post on this here.)

    1. craazyboy

      Not a bad first offer, but how about throwing in some hookers? Then we can get serious about it.

      1. nigelk

        5% and a 10-year moratorium on the estate, er, I mean, DEATH tax and we’ve got a deal.

        And a free poor person for every 1%er to rickshaw you around Manhattan!

    2. tegnost

      I have not as I recall seen that bit of offal, but it’s not surprising. I do agree that it has become necessary to say please to our overlords.

    3. Robert Frances

      My understanding is the lower tax rate would apply only to foreign earnings brought back to the US. Currently those foreign earnings are subject to a 35% federal tax rate (plus any state income taxes), which means most large businesses will unlikely bring the earnings back to the US since they can just reinvest them in overseas expansion or earn interest in foreign bank accounts. Many members of congress (often Democrats) are big supporters of transportation funding since it increases land values and enables sprawl development, which helps create higher profits for developers and landlords (two big-money political contributors), and creates jobs for the politically influential construction unions that build the highways and mass transit. The deal being worked out would trade a low tax rate for bringing the profits back to the US, which would be earmarked for transportation spending.

      The gas tax that has historically funded the federal government transportation spending doesn’t go too far these days as cars become more fuel-efficient and as the transportation funding needs increase dramatically as sprawl spreads out from major job-centers across the US. In the West we have 12-lane freeways heading in every direction to enable sprawl development, which become costly to maintain and become quite congested as more housing is pushed to the urban margins. It costs quite a bit to maintain these large freeway systems and to expand the freeways from 12 lanes to 16 lanes. Getting the federal government completely out of the transportation business and turning it over to the regions would be my preference, but there’s too much money to be made in sprawl expansion and in big-ticket transit in cities, such as light-rail and new subways, not to mention the very powerful political players who benefit from transportation funding.

        1. Robert Frances

          We could, but over time I think it would mostly affect smaller companies without a lot of foreign earnings. The larger companies would continue to find ways to migrate away from the US as their primary tax home, even if it meant merging with a foreign “owner” subject to a much lower effective tax rate. A 35% drag on earnings is a significant motivator to get that number down to 10 or 15%, especially if you are a high-level manager with lucrative stock options and/or if you’d earn a nice multi-million dollar bonus if you could successfully migrate.

          1. Raj

            That’s fine, let them leave. Then, when they want access to the U.S. consumer market, charge them a fee or rate.

            1. Robert Frances

              That’s what I’d propose too. Ditch the corporate income tax altogether so it doesn’t matter where the “profits” are earned (currently dependent on very convoluted corporate structures), and impose a 5-7% tax on the gross receipts of billion-dollar businesses, with lower GR tax rates on businesses with less than billions of sales. Maybe the tax starts at 1-2% GR on the gross receipts of companies with receipts over $1-2 million (smaller companies could be exempt from the tax), and bump up the rates to the top 5-7% tax on the world’s largest businesses. Imports would be subject to tax as you propose, but exports could be exempted, which would help companies that produce and generate jobs iin the US but sell overseas. All of the current shenanigans done to avoid corporate income taxes would be eliminated. Billions would be saved in government audit costs too, although most business oriented tax accountants would need to find a more socially beneficial line of work.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I believe the government does not need that (the gas tax) or any taxes to fund itself.

  2. Sam Kanu

    Re: Big Brother – he is a good one from elsewhere around the world:
    (Use google translate) but a brief summary is basically: Norwegian a legislator from the main country’s opposition party rings the alarm, after the parliamentary administration demands that all the legislators install on their smartphones a “security” app that takes permissions to access all data/documents/sensors on the device and can remotely control the camera on the phone!

    Not coincidentally, administrative responsibility for this falls under the purview of the govt “security”/”justice” minister, who just so happens to be from a loony right wing party that one can only best describe as having many clear parallels in European history.

    1. Ulysses

      Big Brother was also on the mind of Debra Leigh Scott, who raises these serious questions following the recent visit of Pope Francis to the city of brotherly love:

      “Why were there so many branches of the military and so many from various intelligence agencies here? In a two block walk on Saturday during the Pope’s visit, I saw the camouflage-clad National Guard, stationed in twos and threes on every single corner. I was far away from the actual event areas, on a part of South Street that runs from Front Street to about Fourth Street. This military presence existed throughout the city, and not only in the areas where the conference activities were being held, or in the areas where the Pope was conducting his events. I saw camouflage jeeps and a huge military transport vehicle on otherwise empty streets. Military helicopters continually buzzed overhead. I saw FBI, Homeland Security, plain clothes intelligence officers (and yes, you are that bad at “blending in”), Border Patrol. Throughout the city, there were militarized police, TSA people, NSA people… I ask Mayor Nutter, why shouldn’t we be scared shitless? What the hell was going on?…

      And here’s the big question: who, really, was in charge? We were told that it was Secret Service. But we were also told, by Kevin Shelly in his article in the Philly Voice that there were up to SEVENTY agencies taking part in this exercise. There was a secretly located MACC (Multiple Agency Command Center), and many other mini-command centers located throughout the city, which, we were told “…will be used by more than 50 of the more than 70 agencies cooperating in assuring a safe and secure visit for the pope, according to Beach. But it is paid for out of the Secret Service’s budget.” George Orwell couldn’t have imagined it better. “The center, which goes live at 9 a.m. next Thursday and operates around the clock until at least 4 p.m. Monday, features a banks of chairs — filled by 90 people per shift around the clock — and tables, telephones, five projection screens and two mega-screen TVs.”…
      Additional surveillance equipment had been installed through the city, too. Streets were cordoned, barricaded, blocked. Highways were shut down. The Ben Franklin Bridge connecting the city of Camden across the Delaware River to Philadelphia was closed to automobiles. Even public transportation was severely curtailed. Taxis weren’t permitted to run. Because of all this, schools shut down. Museums shut down. Theatres went dark. The courts closed. Businesses closed. Restaurants closed. Stores closed. The barricades, barriers, and blockades stood as signs of a kind of sinister over-reach on deserted streets. Except for those tens of thousands of Philadelphia residents who fled….and yes, I think that is an appropriate word……those who stayed were, essentially, trapped. Yes, you could bike around. Yes, you could walk. Yes, some public transportation was functioning. But it was all under the heavy hand of some shadowy decision-makers who were not answerable to the public. The Mayor made it clear that he wasn’t running things. It seems clear that our governor wasn’t running things, either…

      Was this lock-down of Philadelphia a situation of undeclared martial law? Let’s review: it certainly seemed more than likely that the use of military force was possible, given the high number of military everywhere, and given their martial law exercises conducted only a month before. The government military personnel were exercising authority to make and enforce civil and criminal laws – something as ridiculous as tackling and arresting a young man for skateboarding in a “forbidden zone” for instance. Our civil liberties were suspended, in that we were NOT free from unwarranted or unreasonable searches and seizures, and since there were checkpoints all over the city. Freedom of movement was most certainly suspended, given the highway shutdowns, the bridge closure, the militarized “zones” that had been established, the severe limitations on public transportation.
      My conclusion? Yes. Philadelphia was in a state of undeclared martial law.”

      1. Chris in Paris

        This reminds me of the NSA set up during the Athens Olympic Games. You can be pretty sure that the infrastructure they put in place has not been dismantled. Why would it be?

      2. Ed

        On the security for the Pope’s visit, given that there was an actual attempted assassination of a Pope in my lifetime, I think there is was a legitimate reason for it. And of course the way they did this was overkill. You only really need it within a two block radius of where the Pope is actually at. Alot of this is due to agencies and unions grabbing increased budgets and overtime, but that really doesn’t lessen the crappiness.

        Alot of people in the city scheduled their annual vacations to coincide with the Papal visit, so you had a weird feeling in Central City where most of the people you ran into were security or tourists, most of them attending the conference of families. These things are more disruptive in smaller cities than in New York, where the annual disruption of Midtown for the UN opening is routine -Midtown is always congested anyway- and barely noticed by the rest of the city.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          As Ulysses makes clear, this had nothing to do with over-reach and everything to do with using the Pope as an excuse for exercises in martial control.

          As to the need for protection, no one has suggested it isn’t necessary.

          1. Ulysses

            “An excuse for exercises in martial control.” Yep. See also the aftermath of the Boston Marathon incident for such an exercise.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              And for each of those involved security-state agencies to justify or ask a bigger share of an unlimited overall federal budget.

              And more overtime for the agents on duty.

        2. jrs

          Well my first thoughts on seeing the Pope was visiting the U.S. were: Don’t Get Killed!!! This is a dangerous country, especially for famous and controversial people, especially for people with even a streak of radicalism.

          How many others had the same thoughts? Stay alive Pope (especially as he’s about as good a Pope as is likely to happen).

  3. Carolinian

    Hillary and the little people.


    Of course Pat Lang’s source is the NY Post, but given the imperious demands of her speaking contract–comically provided by Haygood the other day–it seems more than plausible. The notion that the Secret Service underlings are to remain invisible when not needed has a particularly Downton Abbey tinge to it. Soon she will be using the royal we.

    1. hidflect

      Had a similar experience with the ex-CEO of BHP Billiton, Marius Kloppers. When he came round to inspect our installation of a remote mining operations centre, we were all ordered off the floor to a higher level to allow him to walk around, unmolested. Suddenly there was a panic as it transpired he was also coming up to our level to see the operation. We all had to crowd and pile into meeting rooms and breakout rooms and pull the blinds down so that Mr. Kloppers wouldn’t have to gaze on our peasant-like visages. Happily he was fired 3 months later for losing $10Billion but not a moment earlier.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Kloppers was “Fired?” I hear he “retired with full military honors:”

        Outgoing BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers will take cash, shares and performance rights worth up to $75.2 million at current prices.

        Mr Kloppers, 50, this week outlined plans to retire as chief in May after almost six years in the job. He will remain an employee of the company until October.

        If paid, it will count as one of the most generous exit packages in Australian history, topped only by the $80 million package reportedly received by former Macquarie Bank managing director Allan Moss, but beating previous payouts including to Colonial First State’s Chris Cuffe ($33 million), Santos’ John Ellice-Flint ($16.8 million), and PBL’s John Alexander ($15 million). Mr Kloppers’ predecessor Chip Goodyear reportedly left with entitlements of $60 million, while ousted BHP chief Brian Gilbertson received a $12 million payout.

        “Don’t cry for me, old Aus-tralia

        It won’t be easy, you’ll think it strange
        When I try to explain how I feel
        That I still need your love after all that I’ve done

        You won’t believe me
        All you will see is a putz you once knew
        Although he’s dressed up to the nines
        At sixes and sevens with you
        I had to let it happen, I had to change

        Couldn’t stay all my life down at heel
        Looking out of the window
        Staying out of the sun
        So, I chose freedom
        Running around, trying everything new
        But nothing impressed me at all
        I never expected it to

        Don’t cry for me, Au-us-tralia,
        The truth is I never left you
        All through my wild days
        My mad existence
        I kept my promise
        Don’t keep your distance

        And as for fortune and as for fame
        I never invited them in
        Though it seemed to the world
        They were all I desired…”

        The Air France employees made a move in the right direction, the other day…

  4. Brooklin Bridge

    China’s Nightmarish Citizen Scores Are a Warning For Americans American Civil Liberties Union.

    A warning? The difference is that in China, the government pulls this off on it’s citizens (some of whom go along) whereas in the US, the government, private enterprise and the media gets it’s citizens to pull it off on themselves and believe they are the cleverest bunch in the process.

    Fertile ground for super deals on bridges is still vastly better here in the USA.

  5. Brindle

    I gave the NYT Politics section a quick look—four articles mostly about Clinton, two about Biden, zero for Sanders—not unusual for them.

    The “How Repubs Are Rehabbing Hillary’s Image” is interesting as it promotes the “Hillary victimized by GOP” meme as being a way get her votes—not her positions on issues etc., just personality stuff.

    1. petal

      Definitely seeing more and more Bernie Sanders bumper stickers on cars in the area(Upper Valley of NH) over the past couple of weeks. Haven’t seen anything Hillary Clinton in ages. It’s like she doesn’t exist.

    2. Gareth

      Congressional inquisitors should stop pretending they have a smoking gun if all they have is the rumor of one. These rubes never know when to quit. What does not kill the Hillary makes her stronger.

  6. optimader

    We Have Committed a War Crime: ‘Patients Were Burning in Their Beds’ Salon
    I don’t understand the title. Are Patients burning in beds what constitutes a War Crime? Would it have been different had they been killed outright in a crossfire instead of landing in a hospital?
    Was shooting up a Doctors without Borders hospital to kill staff and patients in a ghastly manner an intentional objective or an inevitable act of a large ignorant bureaucracy with weapons given enough time with inadequate rules of engagement?
    Who is the “we”?
    Afghan officials claimed the hospital was being used as a “base” for the Taliban.

    I think the latter, an inevitable act of a large ignorant bureaucracy with weapons given enough time with inadequate rule of engagement is the likely prospect.

    The higher level question is one of Just War. Should the US be involved in a “fill in the blank” (Afghan) Civil War.?

    Killing civilians is one example of the heinous consequences of War, whether they are burned in beds, aerosolized or shot are merely the differential avenues to the same bad outcome.
    Was killing civilians the US objective? I doubt it. Was it an Afghan objective to use the US Mil as a tool? That may well be. Is the story line fluid as career Mil scurry about to avoid being fodder? No doubt.

    1. OIFVet

      Very easy to blame the Afghan flunkies, but I suspect US special forces were in the area, advising. And it was on September 29th that MSF reminded the US and Afghan officials of the precise location of its facility in Kunduz. At what point, given the track record of attacking civilian targets, do US actions rise from “inevitable mistakes by an ignorant bureaucracy” to willful disregard for military conventions and war crimes?

      1. Carolinian

        Latest is that US Special Forces team called in the strike but no “eyes on.” This may have been at request of Afghans. Pentagon now admitting everything but all a “mistake” of course…..

        1. OIFVet

          “Your honor, my clients are incompetent and mistake-prone. That’s not a crime, therefore you must find them ‘not guilty’.” That appears to be the argument here. See, we are exceptional so the normal rules do not apply. Sort of like with the bankers…

          In any case, being incompetent and stupid is not a defense, even if this is what led to the strike. Being former military though, I find it hard to belief that SF operating in the area did not have intelligence about the area, to include civilian and NGO facilities.

          1. James Levy

            They mean to tell us that MSF doesn’t inform the US military where it is operating in a nation under de facto US military occupation? No chance. And you can bet your life the Signals Intel guys were listening in on anything coming into or out of that hospital.

            MSF has the effrontery to take in and treat any person who can make it to their doors. With the battle for Kunduz going badly for our flunkies and their Special Forces overseers, my guess is a few of our hit men got really pissed and called in the air strike to cut off the Taliban from any access to modern medical care. The US did the same thing in complete contravention to the Geneva Convention when they seized the only functioning hospital in Fallujah in a prelude to the attack. Ups the body count, dontcha know.

              1. ewmayer

                As if you couldn’t easily find multiple links confirming that MSF regularly notified the coalition about the location of the hospital, should you desire to do so … but here ya go:

                The Radically Changing Story of the U.S. Airstrike on Afghan Hospital: From Mistake to Justification | The Intercept

                In particular, MSF quickly publicized numerous facts that cast serious doubt on the original U.S. claim that the strike on the hospital was just an accident. To begin with, the organization had repeatedly advised the U.S. military of the exact GPS coordinates of the hospital. They did so most recently on September 29, just five days before the strike. Beyond that, MSF personnel at the facility “frantically” called U.S. military officials during the strike to advise them that the hospital was being hit and to plead with them to stop, but the strikes continued in a “sustained” manner for 30 more minutes. Finally, MSF yesterday said this:

                The hospital was repeatedly & precisely hit during each aerial raid, while the rest of the compound was left mostly untouched #Kunduz

                — MSF International (@MSF) October 4, 2015

                All of these facts make it extremely difficult – even for U.S. media outlets – to sell the “accident” story. At least as likely is that the hospital was deliberately targeted, chosen either by Afghan military officials who fed the coordinates to their U.S. military allies and/or by the U.S. military itself.

                Even cynical critics of the U.S. have a hard time believing that the U.S. military would deliberately target a hospital with an airstrike (despite how many times the U.S. has destroyed hospitals with airstrikes). But in this case, there is long-standing tension between the Afghan military and this specific MSF hospital, grounded in the fact that the MSF – true to its name – treats all wounded human beings without first determining on which side they fight. That they provide medical treatment to wounded civilians and Taliban fighters alike has made them a target before.

            1. skippy

              “MSF has the effrontery to take in and treat any person who can make it to their doors”

              As was the mission for Freedom Group in Afghanistan during the Russian occupation.

          2. Optimader

            incompetence and stupidity is incontravertably intertwined with every combatant force in any war i am aware of.
            Rest assured your noble, kinder gentler Russian military will be involved in exactly the same sort of events in due course in Syria. It is an inevitability.

            1. OIFVet

              Again, incompetence and stupidity is no defense, your childish jabs notwithstanding. How many more need to be killed, in addition to all the civilians we have killed over the past 14 years, before imperial folly becomes criminal? It’s all fine and well to blame incompetence, but that is also a convenient excuse to continue doing the same thing with a small fry taking the blame for the criminal imperial elite and thus shielding them from ever having to take responsbility for their handywork

        2. Optimader

          I dont doubt this. An exercise of postoffice. Cui bono. What modivation to kill a bunch of civis,let alone MDs,nurses, patients? As a monimum its a career ending event for whomever gets tagged with it

          1. OIFVet

            Treating everybody is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. “You are either with us or you are against us,” dontcha know. And the true perpetrators never get tagged. They get to retire and build presidential liebarries.

            1. sam s smith

              Attacking a hospital is directly against the rules of engagement. The military is supposed to give warning to the facility prior to an attack and the response should be appropriate.

     Due Warning Before Cessation of Protection.

              In addition, protection for civilian hospitals may cease only after due warning has been given, naming, in all appropriate cases, a reasonable time limit, and after such warning has remained unheeded.

              The obligation to refrain from use of force against a civilian medical facility acting in violation of its mission and protected status without due warning does not prohibit the exercise f the right of self-defense. There may be cases in which, in the exercise of the right of self defense, warning is not “due” or a reasonable time limit is not appropriate. For example, forces
              receiving heavy fire from a hospital may exercise their right of self-defense and return fire. Such use of force in self-defense against medical units or facilities must be proportionate. For example, a single enemy rifleman firing from a hospital window would warrant a response against the rifleman only, rather than the destruction of the hospital.


    2. abynormal

      pardon my elementary analysis…i hear a blustering Obama tantrum: ‘hey Putin, see how far we’re willing to go’

      “Do you think it’s possible for an entire nation to be insane?”

      1. Whine Country

        It’s not only possible but likely according to Eric Fromm in his 1956 publication of “The Sane Society”.

        1. jrs

          That book is certainly a vision of a society I’d like to live in, but it’s certainly a socialist vision (not “socialist” but socialist full stop) with some anarchist elements.

          Nation insane? I’ve given up counting. Do you think Obama is as outraged at a hospital being bombed as at gun violence? I mean a hospital being bombed is beyond the pale.

      2. ira

        The odds of Putin being intimidated by Obama are significantly less than zero. And this doesn’t even take into account Russia’s superiority in missile technology and air defense systems.

        1. James Levy

          US air to air missiles and sensors are better than their Russian counterparts. They have a lot more invested in SAMs and theirs may be better than ours, but the US depends on its huge air force to shot down planes, not ground-based missile systems. As can be seen above, I’m completely ready to slag on the US military when it deserves it, but let’s not make Ivan 10 feet tall.

          1. ira

            Not only SAMs, but also Yakhont anti ship missiles. Reportedly, within two years the S-500 system will be ready, and all of Russian air space will be made invulnerable to attack by missiles or planes.

            1. Optimader

              Yes, well there you have! Invulnerability! Im moving my rainbow unicorn herd there for safekeeping!

              1. abynormal

                hilarious…your unicorn will enjoy the sunsets too

                Vladimir Putin Wins Nobel Prize for Mr. Nice Guy
                The guests of honor to present the winner with the Nobel Prize in Mr. Nice Guy are fellow Russian tycoons, Roman Abromovich and Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The former is the current owner of London Soccer team Chelsea Football Club. The latter is an oil businessman who spent time in prison for fraud and tax evasion. Abramovich pursued Vladimir Putin’s friendship when the president offered a discount on soccer balls made in Russian state prisons. Meanwhile, Khodorovsky’s incarceration remains shrouded in mystery. Some say it results from a lover’s quarrel between he and Putin when both men were cutting their professional teeth during the Soviet era’s sunset.

          2. hunkerdown

            The technology is only part of the matter. Opportunistic US hooligans eating KFC while playing video games with the lives of the locals are perfectly suited to dividing and ruling populations who get uppity against divine Western authority, but are no match for professionals with a mission, an objective, an exit strategy, and (most importantly) approximately no interest in keeping the meter running longer than necessary.

            I’m not about to claim “invulnerable”, what with Russia’s southeastern neighbors having some pretty keen tech themselves and plenty of surplus cannon fodder and octocopter kits. But the USA’s categorical imperative is to protect the lives and property of its nobility, which enforces a certain distance between bluster and capability. A bit like the F-35 Yardbird, come to think of it.

        2. abynormal

          i chose “tantrum” for what it is…
          “Tantrums are an expression of emotion that became too much for the child to bear.”

    3. Kurt Sperry

      I pretty much agree. The dangerous misconception being advanced is that this was anomalous, that incidents like this are avoidable when conducting large scale military operations. Which isn’t to excuse whatever errors caused this particular incident, but that there’s an underlying tacit assumption that high tech military operations can be conducted in a “clean” way without massive killing and maiming of innocents. No. In spite of Hollywood and TV’s best attempts to whitewash the horror of war, it has never been possible and remains impossible to use military might over any time without *inevitably* causing atrocities, slaughter of innocents and war crimes. If you support *any* large scale or protracted use of military force, you also support war crimes. War and war crimes are utterly inseparable from each other and no amount of naive hagiography about soldiers as “heroes” or “noble war” or high tech wizardry can change that fact. Why do our soldiers returning home keep killing themselves? This is why. They discover the truth and it cannot be reconciled with the lies they are fed to get them to do as they were ordered.

    4. trinity river

      optimader, I would tend to agree with you except that no one in the administration or military seems to want to investigate this situation. Why are they taking the attitude that nothing really happened here. Collateral damage. No responsibility. These people don’t matter.

      1. Optimader

        Success has many parents and failure is an orphan.
        I dont condone war unless its the last option of selfdefense, so to be clear i dont condone blowing apart hospitals.
        That said the people in the war buisness or advancing it surely have no interest in the worst possible media impressions. I just dont believe it was done wilfully by the Us mil as it offers no good outcome for any involved.

        Maybe some percived advantage to the local afghan mil that was calling it in –i have no measure of their modivation.

        1. OIFVet

          Intent is not a prerequisite for war crimes. At most, lack of intent can be an argument for leniency, not innocence. Otherwise it becomes nothing more than exceptionalist apologia.

          1. Optimader

            Punch up not down.
            If a rouge aircrew elected to fire on what they know is active hospital facility then yes i would agree, beyond immoral it is crimminal.

            If by their rules of engagement they were firing on a coordinate given to them, it is instead something they will have to live with.
            . I’ll certainly concede that working up the chain of command, if someone issued an order to knowingly shoot on an active hospital as some ill considered object lesson, or some equally illogical case of batsht crazy then yeah that should constitute a war crime.
            My point is, i doubt either is the case.
            At a much higher level, the fact that we are still engaged there exposing the locals in their own country AND our military to elective hostility is imo a more fruitful avenue for pursuing the motion of war crimes

            1. OIFVet

              I love it! There is a textbook case of a war crime, but one with no criminally responsible perpetrators. Just hapless peons with their fingers on the trigger. That’s how responsibility gets swept under the rug in the present-day America. Look, as a lowly peon I was regularly appraised about civilian facilities and groups in our AO. If the air crew wasn’t appraised about the MSF facility, then its chain of command is criminally negligent and thus responsible.

              And yes, I did punch up already, see my comment above about imperial folly and imperial elites.

              1. optimader

                If the air crew wasn’t appraised about the MSF facility, then its chain of command is criminally negligent and thus responsible.

                All these acts outlined below require intent rather than just negligence/stupidity/ignorance


                ICC at a glance
                The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The ICC is based on a treaty, joined by 123 countries (effective as of 1 April 2015).

                What are war crimes?

                “War crimes” include grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict and in conflicts “not of an international character” listed in the Rome Statute, when they are committed as part of a plan or policy or on a large scale. These prohibited acts include:

                •mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
                •taking of hostages;
                •intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population;
                •intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historical monuments or hospitals;
                •rape, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy or any other form of sexual violence;
                •conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups or using them to participate actively in hostilities.

                1. OIFVet

                  Changing the story as to mask intent, tried and true tactic of US high military command criminals:

                  Sunday – Pentagon press office:
                  US forces conducted an airstrike in Kunduz city at 2:15am (local), Oct 3, against insurgents who were directly firing upon US service members advising and assisting Afghan Security Forces in the city of Kunduz. The strike was conducted in the vicinity of a Doctors Without Borders medical facility.

                  Monday – Gen John Campbell, US military chief in Afghanistan:
                  We have now learned that on October 3, Afghan forces advised that they were taking fire from enemy positions and asked for air support from US forces. An airstrike was then called to eliminate the Taliban threat and several civilians were accidentally struck. This is different from the initial reports, which indicated that US forces were threatened and that the airstrike was called on their behalf.

                  Why bombing Kunduz Hospital Was Probably a War Crime:

                  “These statements imply that Afghan and U.S. forces working together decided to raze to the ground a fully functioning hospital with more than 180 staff and patients inside because they claim that members of the Taliban were present,” Christopher Stokes, MSF’s general director, said in a statement. “This amounts to an admission of a war crime.”

                  BTW, was anyone in the military and civilian leadership ever persecuted for war crimes in connection with the organized torture of Iraqi prisoners? Half-wit Lynddie England wasn’t persecuted for war crimes either, even if she ultimately became the convenient scapegoat of imperial adventurism.

            2. vidimi

              and yet, someone gave the order to shoot up a hospital and only a hospital. as clear a war crime and an act of terrorism as they come.

              1. optimader

                Is that a new development? Do you have the link?

                I have read that current rules of engagement were not followed. That much is clear.

                I haven’t read that an order was given to “shoot up a hospital and only a hospital”. If that is the case then indeed a war crime as codified.

                I think people are overly optimistic about the elimination of human factors that work against targeting oxymoronically named “precision weapons” during war, particularly perpetual war.
                The longer hostilities last, the more bad outcomes accumulate, whether it’s shooting up a hospital, bombing an embassy, a wedding party the list is as long as you want to go back in history. Certainly the French have not been immune during modern history in Algeria and Vietnam.


    5. Vatch

      The attack on the Kunduz hospital may have started out as a hideous mistake, but it supposedly continued for 30 minutes after the MSF staff informed U.S. and Afghan officials of what was happening. The initial attack might not qualify as a war crime (I’m not a lawyer, so I could be wrong), but If the attacks really did continue for 30 minutes after the officials were informed, then I think it became a war crime.

      1. abynormal

        were we recently bombing too close?
        As the Executive Director, of Doctors without Borders Jason Cone tweeted, “all parties 2 conflict, including in Kabul & Washington, were clearly informed of precise GPS Coordinates of @MSF facilities in Kunduz” and that the “precise location of @MSF Kunduz hospital communicated to all parties on multiple occasions over past months, including on 9/29.

        this don’t fly with sanity either: ” another example of the utter incompetence, carelessness and disregard of innocent civilian lives”

      2. lindaj

        I was wondering about the American troop plane that crashed in Afghanistan earlier in the week. Misplaced revenge?

  7. allan

    LinkedIn agrees to pay $13 million in ‘spam’ settlement

    LinkedIn Corp. has agreed to pay $13 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging that the social network sent too many emails to potential connections without members’ consent.

    Not a surprise. I made the mistake of signing up for LinkedIn in 2009 and never use it,
    but get these emails all the time.
    Numerous people from whom I supposedly received requests to add them as contacts
    have told me they never sent the message.

    Notice this is the result of a class-action lawsuit. Where are the Feds?

    1. JTMcPhee

      What a weird, ingenuous notion — that “the Feds” actually do any of that “general welfare governance” stuff any more. The folks who bought the government, in all the large and small ways they have done so, expect to get the customer service they paid for… Mary Jo White understands, so did the recent Attorney General, so does Obama and his posse and the skulch he is filling the aristocrbureuaucracy with on the way ou, so do the “legislators” we mopes still in hour little hearts believe are “representing us.” Some of us are figuring out that’s just a typo — “representing” should be “repressing…”

    2. trinity river

      I was never interested in posting with LinkedIn. Yet I got many invitations from people who did. I kept getting invites from the same people and, in the beginning, was getting irritated with these people. But eventually, I realized that many, if not all, of the repeat requests were LinkedIn’s own doing.

      There was no way to opt out. Glad they are being punished.

  8. DJG

    Excellent diagnosis at Club Orlov: The silly empire has become curiously unimportant. We are the nation that is too clever by half: We just invented the self-bombing hospital. Yet we have guns, so every day is Umpqua in America and we are happy to visit our Umpqua-ness and the untoward (not so silly) reactions on the world.

    And yet! Hark! We live in the New Golden Age of Television.

  9. craazyman

    are there any social scientists around here to help make sense of reality?

    what we need is method and precision rather than conjecture and invective. each day brings conjecture and invective but no precison!

    political scientists in particular would be valuable right now. is there a way of using the rigor of the scientific method to explain The Daily Asteroid that approaches, or do we need an astronomer? An astronomer may not be interested enough in humanity to be motivated to solve these problems in a scientific way.

    some of the commenters here present themselves as academics, or retired academics, with impeccable pedigrees. maybe they can provide some formulas we can apply to our analysis.

    1. craazyboy

      I had social science in high school and the teacher told us it’s not really a science because it doesn’t use math. Except for maybe some statistics, and everyone knows that’s fake math. Political science is even worse that way. Take the word problem “If you are going 80 miles an hour, how many miles have you gone after one hour?”. If you ask two people and get 8 answers, then that is quantum mechanics at best, and that kind of math is too intractable to be of any practical use.

      The Daily Asteroid isn’t really predictable using orbital mechanics, because sometimes we are hit with 3 or more in a single day. That’s even worse than quantum mechanics. Then some people are always making moon rocks into asteroids. Like the Evangelist US Air Force people that are going crazy over the link between yoga and Bad Witches. WTF is the math formula for that???? I think there they should just read some appropriate scripture like “Avert thy eyes”, and get over it.

      1. craazyman

        I don’t know how your comment went into moderation. There’s nothiing controversial about this. if you’re going 80 mph there’s no way to know how many miles you’ve gone after 1 hour because you might change speeds at any given point in time. You need at the very least a line integral formulation with a parameterization of the time variable and within a carefully specified vector field that quantifies speed in relation to a set of underlying variables. It was a trick question and those kids on the porch saw right through it.

  10. Nealser

    Re the ‘Clean Energy Moonshot’
    For all the Obama talk about taking action on Climate Change, the bottom line is still feed the MIC..

    ” In the US, for example, the government allocates ….. roughly $65 billion per year for military R&D, but only about $7 billion per year for non-defense energy, and, of that, less than $2 billion per year for renewable-energy R&D.”

  11. fresno dan

    “There is perhaps no greater evidence of how deeply askew American gun culture has become than a mother taking her mentally disturbed boy to the shooting range and stocking up on firearms back at the fortress called home. Lanza went to a gun range with his mother, and used one of her weapons to kill her before embarking on the massacre of the century. Harper appears to have shared her son’s fascination with guns, and made room for a tidy arsenal in the apartment they shared. According to Roof’s uncle, the alleged killer’s father gave his son a .45-caliber pistol for his birthday in April.”

    Guns as a treatment for depression, loneliness, isolation – is there anything they can’t do?

    1. jrs

      Although is that really “gun culture” or a disturbed parent? Very very disturbed don’t get me wrong. Can you even have a “culture” if it’s all virtual, all listening to Rush Limbaugh or whatever, what kind of “culture” is that, with people you don’t even see? May as well talk about Naked Cap culture. Culture isn’t even the right word ….

      Maybe the word they mean to use is *ideology*, which I suppose makes some sense, gun ideology no doubt fed into really what seems undeniably a very dysfunctional family.

  12. sid_finster

    I am not an empire and I care about women’s clothes.

    If I were gay and I could draw, I’d be a dress designer. I don’t think Yves would really like what I’d design, however.

    1. MLS

      you don’t need to be gay to be a dress designer, just creative-minded. Probably do have to be able to draw, though.

      1. craazyman

        It’s true. You have to know how to draw, which is very hard for lots of people. Even Jackson Pollock himself found drawing very hard. He said he was horrible at it. However, if somebody looks at his sketchbooks, through hard work he became very good at it. You have to be able to draw fabric of many varieties, from shiny to velvetlike that doesn’t reflect light, conveying heavy fabric and light fabric with an understanding of how to do this through drawing. You have to be able to draw flowers because so much of the puffy fabric that decorates dresses is like flowers. And you have to understand life drawing and the human figure. And especially light and shadow, which covers everything, literally.

        I’m amazed at how good drawers some fashion designers are. They really are quite accomplished.

        You can do all these things and be a straight guy. If you draw really well and design beautiful dresses, people might think you’re gay, but that just makes it easier to get laid, if that’s what somebody wants.

        I thought it would be cool to design dresses and I’m a straight guy, but I’m not delusional and realize what an incredibly practiced craft it is. Besides, I shop at Joseph A. Bank so that alone would disqualify me from getting anywhere near a dress design. hahahah. I actually kind of like their Signature Gold suit but in the Tailored Fit.

  13. Watt4Bob

    There are more hogs in North Carolina than people, and that means hog-waste storage lagoons.

    I am wondering about the almost-certain failure of those storage lagoons due to the phenomenal amount of rain that has fallen in the region of late.

    HAW BRANCH, N.C., June 24 1995— The worst hog-waste spill in state history sent 25 million gallons of waste gushing into the New River this week, killing fish and taking the battle over the hog industry to a new level.

    Farm workers blamed the spill on the rain that blanketed Onslow County for much of last weekend. Almost three inches of rain had fallen since Sunday, the National Weather Service said.

    I’m wondering what the result of over 20″ of rain has been on the hundreds of hog waste lagoons in the state?

      1. Watt4Bob

        Drone video of typical <a href="”>Smithfield Foods hog operation with waste lagoon.

        Rolling Stone’s article outing Smithfield Foods as one of the biggest polluters in the country.

        Smithfield is not just a virtuosic polluter; it is also a theatrical one. Its lagoons are historically prone to failure. In North Carolina alone they have spilled, in a span of four years, 2 million gallons of shit into the Cape Fear River, 1.5 million gallons into its Persimmon Branch, one million gallons into the Trent River and 200,000 gallons into Turkey Creek. In Virginia, Smithfield was fined $12.6 million in 1997 for 6,900 violations of the Clean Water Act – the third-largest civil penalty ever levied under the act by the EPA. It amounted to .035 percent of Smithfield’s annual sales.”

        …and now all the rain in the world is falling on North Carolina, and what the impact on all those waste lagoons?

        1. abynormal

          plenty of warning:

          Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7400, USA.
          Environmental Health Perspectives (Impact Factor: 7.98). 05/2002; 110(4):387-91. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.02110387
          Source: PubMed

          “Thousands of confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) have been constructed in eastern North Carolina. The fecal waste pit and spray field waste management systems used by these operations are susceptible to flooding in this low-lying region. To investigate the potential that flood events can lead to environmental dispersion of animal wastes containing numerous biologic and chemical hazards, we compared the geographic coordinates of 2,287 CAFOs permitted by the North Carolina Division of Water Quality (DWQ) with estimates of flooding derived from digital satellite images of eastern North Carolina taken approximately 1 week after Hurricane Floyd dropped as much as 15-20 inches of rain in September 1999. Three cattle, one poultry, and 237 swine operations had geographic coordinates within the satellite-based flooded area. DWQ confirmed 46 operations with breached or flooded fecal waste pits in the same area. Only 20 of these 46 CAFOs were within the satellite-based estimate of the inundated area. CAFOs within the satellite-based flood area were located in 132 census block groups with a population of 171,498 persons in the 2000 census. African Americans were more likely than whites to live in areas with flooded CAFOs according to satellite estimates, but not according to DWQ reports. These areas have high poverty rates and dependence on wells for drinking water. Our analysis suggests that flood events have a significant potential to degrade environmental health because of dispersion of wastes from industrial animal operations in areas with vulnerable populations.”

          For example, runoff from farms in Maryland and North Carolina are a leading candidate for Pfiesteria piscicida. This contaminant has the ability to kill fish, and it can also cause skin irritation and short term memory loss in humans[20]

          More than 150 pathogens in manure lagoons that have been found to impact human health.[4] Healthy individuals who come into contact with pathogens usually recover promptly. However, those who have a weakened immune system, such as cancer patients and young children, have an increased risk for a more severe illness or even death.[4] About 20 percent of the U.S. population are categorized in this risk group.[4]
          common pathogens (and their symptoms) include:[4]

          Bacillus anthracis, otherwise known as Anthrax (skin sores, headache, fever, chills, nausea, vomiting)
          Leptospira pomona (abdominal pain, muscle pain, vomiting, fever)
          Listeria monocytogenes (fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea)
          Salmonella (abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, chills, fever, headache)
          Clostridium tetani (violent muscle spasms, lockjaw, difficulty breathing)
          Histoplasma capsulatum (fever, chills, muscle ache, cough rash, joint pain and stiffness)
          Microsporum and Trichophyton Ringworm (itching, rash)
          Giardia lamblia (abdominal pain, abdominal gas, nausea, vomiting, fever)
          Cryptosporidium (diarrhea, dehydration, weakness, abdominal cramping)
          Pfiesteria piscicida (neurological damage)[13]

          now entering Hell…

          1. Bridget

            Not to worry. After the EPA polluted the Animus River with chemical toxins it was all good in, like, 3 days ish.

            1. abynormal

              they’re experiencing ‘internal’ issues…give it another 30 years ish.
              Debate has raged over key legal definitions. Historically, for instance, the office has relied on environmental health standards to define what it calls “adversity,” interpreting compliance with such standards as evidence that a complaint target’s actions or decisions would not harm a minority community. Similarly, it has allowed a target to argue against a claim of discrimination if a facility complies with environmental laws — a defense known as the “rebuttable presumption.”

              These definitions, observers say, amount to a narrow read of civil-rights law. Some advocates want the EPA to broaden its adversity standard to include social, aesthetic and economic harms — increased odors, decreased property values. Others suggest analyzing environmental damage on a cumulative basis, rather than facility by facility.

              “Oh Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain,
              For strip-mined mountain’s majesty above the asphalt plain.
              America, America, man sheds his waste on thee,
              And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.”

              George Carlin

  14. ekstase

    Ben Carson Wouldn’t Meet UCC Shooting Victims’ Families This Time, But “Would Go to the Next One”

    Wow. Perhaps he’d like to re-think that one.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Whatever happened to ‘I will make sure there is no next one?”

      “Sorry, I missed it again. It will have to be another next one. I promise (you more next ones).”

  15. fresno dan

    Stockton, California Mayor Anthony R. Silva attended a recent mayor’s conference in China, but his return trip took a bit longer than usual. At the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) this week, agents with the Department of Homeland Security detained Silva and confiscated his personal cell phone among other electronics. According to comments from the mayor, that may not even be the most alarming part.

    “Unfortunately, they were not willing or able to produce a search warrant or any court documents suggesting they had a legal right to take my property,” Silva told SFGate. “In addition, they were persistent about requiring my passwords for all devices.”

    The mayor’s attorney, Mark Reichel, told SFGate that Silva was not allowed to leave the airport without forfeiting his passwords. Reichel was not present for Silva’s interaction with the DHS agents, either. The mayor was told he had “no right for a lawyer to be present” and that being a US citizen did not “entitle me to rights that I probably thought,” according to the paper.

    Yeah, those constitutional rights are full of loopholes – the government can do what it wants. Right to a lawyer? – pshaw!!! Right to warrants? Preposterous!!!
    And of course, no body from our exalted security services has to identity themselves

    Update, 10/5: As noted by some commenters, the local Stockton newspaper (The Record) talked with two anonymous law enforcement sources that said the Silver detention may be linked to an ongoing probe. Neither the anonymous sources, the mayor, nor the paper mention what that probe might be. Within The Record’s recent archive, the biggest incident involving Silva appears to be an alleged intoxicated tussle within a limousine from late 2014.
    Ahh…character assassination. Some annoy mouses deflect, and it all goes down the memory hole when it comes to investigation of the privacy act violations.

    We are really back to the rule of kings – the authorities simply do not have to acknowledge or answer the press, or more and more, the judiciary (of course, the judiciary has long ceased to be any bulwark against rights depriving behavior)…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Kings of old, those not sophisticated enough, had to issue gold, silver or bronze money.

      That limited how much damage (but still very large, though not approaching infinity) they could do.

          1. Just Ice

            An English king might be expected to issue only as many Tally Sticks as he needed, no matter how cheap they were to issue.

            My guess is that the British Empire really took off with the BoE.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Today, everyone is a king/queen or should be a king/queen (equal standing, so no one has more claim than others) as far as money creation is concerned.

                Money from the bottom up.

                1. Just Ice

                  One can borrow against her/his future earnings too except … robots and outsourcing.

                  Ain’t progress grand, Progressives?

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    In a non-flat reality, you progress to where you are eventually.

                    “One get to the East by going west.”

                    1. Just Ice

                      You give them too much credit, me thinks. Professing themselves wise, they’ve become utter fools, I read somewhere.

                      Well, live and learn except their path to progress is paved with millions of dead bodies so far.

                    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      Perhaps all of those all end up where we are, moving (progressing forward or progressing backward) or not moving.

  16. susan the other

    Iran’s Ayatollas are a thing of the past
    Jeffrey Sachs is all good except for his faith in “finance”- which is a killer of any future
    and Orlov is sublime – I’d love to hear the details on US/NATO’s boinking off 2 cruise missiles at Syria and Russia shooting them down! Details please Mr. Orlov.

    1. Vatch

      Iran’s Ayatollas are a thing of the past

      If you mean they’re hyper-conservative, yes, they are. But if you mean that they are no longer influential, well, I’d like to see some evidence, because I think they control Iran.

  17. optimader

    Gad zukes! I think I stumbled into the ultimate narcissism! Paying to have yourself skinned! I am assuming you have to be dead?
    National Association for the Preservation of Skin Art

    NAPSA is a nonprofit membership association of like-minded tattoo artists and enthusiasts. We provide a wide-array of support and benefits to the tattoo community — including artists, studios, collectors, and those curious about the industry. And now, with a new proprietary process, NAPSA has developed a method of preserving tattoos so that your story, your spirit, and your legacy can live on, for generations to come

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      OMG. William Gibson correctly foresees the future again!

      See the character Daedra West in The Peripheral. From a review: “… for “ body of work” is quite literally her body of tattooed work: flayed tattooed skins.”

Comments are closed.